This is sort of just a preview of the Schell Bullet project. This is the prologue of the first of the two books, Aden Arabie, but I’ve left out all of the annotations since I haven’t translated the dictionary section yet and I decided to post this now mostly as a preview. I think I’m going to approach this differently from my other TL projects because of the amount of footnotes/graphical inserts in it––tl;dr it’s going to be on its own site rather than WP (at least that’s the plan, site’s pretty much done, now it’s just a matter of sticking with the plan and putting the content there rather than getting lazy and dumping it on WP like this!).
I’m sure the first quote that opens the book will be familiar to anyone who’s seen Utena, lol. Also the writing style is a little strange––there are several unattributed lines of speech and thoughts here and there. I’m pretty sure they’re intentionally meant to be ambiguous, so I didn’t make much of an attempt to clarify where they’re coming from––that and in most situations I don’t know (as opposed to the situation with No. 6 where it was really more a case of me being too lazy to rewrite the narration to be more coherent).
“The bird is fighting its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever wishes to be born must destroy a world. The bird is flying to God. The god is named Abraxas.”
“Demian” Hermann Hesse
“I was twenty. I will let no one say it is the best time of life. Everything threatens a young man with ruin: Love, ideas, family, his entrance into the world of adults. It is hard to learn one’s part in the world.”
“Aden, Arabie” Paul Nizan
Something was detected in the path of the Balt Liner Corporation’s state-of-the-art space ship, the armed clipper, the “Rhone Balt,” immediately after the third shift change was complete.
It had only been 120 hours, standard time, since it had left the spaceport, and the Rhone Balt was still in the process of accelerating toward deep space.
The bridge is a small, low-ceilinged room in the middle of the ship where piloting and communications are centralized.
The bridge personnel discovered “it” in the middle of laughing heartily at a racist Gene Minor joke.
The third-shift bridge crew had a sort of unspoken quota of “tasteless” jokes to make during their shift. There were many occasions, aside from shift changes, on which the captain and navigator were not present on the bridge. The crew took great advantage of such occasions.
“That guy’s especially unbecoming of a Gene Major… What an awful conversation…”
The Gene Minor crew member endured their laughter while looking over at the integrated reader console.
And, in the next instant, his fingers instinctively lept onto the console to send the data to the sector simulator.
The sector simulator was in the middle of the faintly illuminated bridge. When it came on, it filled the room with soft light and suddenly the laughter in the room settled.
In the bell-shaped area that represented the Rhone Balt’s potential range of movement on the acceleration vector display, there was a red dot approaching, threatening to cross the trajectory from the R-side. Something was headed into the Rhone Balt’s path.
A controller read out the text above the red dot.
“Alert Phase One.”
“Is it accelerating?”
Asked the senior second mate.
“It is accelerating. It’s changing course as well.”
The sector simulator displayed their potential regions of movement and the red dot’s movement region was in the process of overlapping a large portion of the Rhone Balt’s.
Moreover, the red dot’s acceleration vector was blinking.
It was clearly a man-made object.
“Alert Phase Two.”
Announced the second mate. The second mate was a Gene Major. He switched into Flow Language and had a short exchange with the ship.
The Gene Minor bridge crew couldn’t understand it. But, they didn’t have time to worry about it.
“The course has changed again, it now resembles an attack pattern.”
“I have no intention of altering the Rhone Balt’s course.”
The second mate said, switching back to common language promptly. And in response, this time the Gene Major helmsman conversed with the ship, the Rhone Balt, in Flow language.
The second mate issued orders to the controllers one by one.
“Mr. Holler, summon the captain and navigator.”
“Ms. Eibers, prepare force-oriented route recon.”
“Alert Phase Three will be declared once the captain and navigator enter the bridge.”
The scent of anxiety emanated from the body of the second mate.
That guy’s especially unbecoming of a Gene Major…
Just as Ors Break got into bed and started to doze off he was awakened.
A young deck hand was incessantly shaking Ors’ shoulder.
“Please get up, force-oriented recon has been requested.”
Ors sleepily looked at the deck hand, the strong smell of unease he was giving off jolted him awake. He pulled himself out of his small bed and asked,
“How long has it been…”
“Two hours after you landed, immediately after the the shift change. Something appeared in the ship’s path during acceleration.”
The smell of unease got stronger right when he said “something.”
The deck hand was a Gene Minor. He was about the same age as Ors.
Minors were unaware of their own scent. They smell of sorrow when they are sad and they smell of joy when they are happy. Like animals…
Ors warned himself to act more Major-like and supressed his emotions as he said,
“On standby in the hangar for Schell Bullet.”
As Ors ran to the Schell hanger in his underwear, Norma’s Schell was loaded into the airlock that lead to the catapult.
The airlock door resembled a lump of metal. It crept toward the Schell, which wasn’t completely settled in the narrow airlock yet, from all sides with a dull groan.
Watching the catapult being loaded from the outside wasn’t a particularly pleasing sight. It was like the rounded body of the Schell was being forced into a metal cave. Or maybe it’s more like some kind of fancy orange juicer…
Several airlock doors closed one after the other and metallic creaking reverberated through the room. Blue, probably electric, sparks went flying.
“Quick, to launch point.”
The voice of the controller, Derby Eibers, could be heard from one of the deck hand’s headsets.
A loud, low bass, like the ground rumbling, filled the area and the sound of gas being expelled shook his skull. The soles of his bare feet prickled with numbness. The sound made it seem like the room could explode at any moment.
Ors took a freshly laundered Strap from the maintenance crew in front of his Schell and put it on with their help. To protect his eardrums, the maintenance crew put a spare headset on him.
Ors looked up at his Schell.
It was a giant, metallic egg which looked almost like it was developing into a human.
It was growing a backbone and the stage its arms and legs were at, it couldn’t support its own weight. It was just curled up like that…
A strange, ancient diving suit, a deep sea crab, prehistoric ancestors… Every time you looked at, it gave a different impression.
You couldn’t distinguish the head from the chest, but feelers were growing out of the pointy ends. It looked like a bug metamorphosing in a cocoon to Ors today.
On it’s gigantic, thick arms the Balt Liner Corporation’s radiating spiral logo was painted in white and below it a design of a fist in a pale yellow.
Its huge body, comprised of intricately curved surfaces, was shrouded in armor plate and there were Rocket Motors attached to its shoulders and hips.
The surface shone like a polished marble, but it looked so heavy that it felt like you’d be squashed just standing next to it.
On that note, he might have seen this thing in a fever-induced dream once when he was a child…
Ors continued to look up at the Schell like he was first person to ever see one.
These metal giants which are power personified…
Stronger than anything…
Faster than anything…
The voice of the controller, Derby Eibers, could be heard through the headsets along with the loud noises that shook the entire room.
Ors snapped back to reality, his body tingling and underwear vibrating from the loud noise and the floor felt cold as ice.
The giant from his childhood dream vanished.
The thing standing before him was not one of those “victors”…
“Break, prepare for catapult loading.”
He could hear Derby’s voice.
Ors’ body reacted mechanically and he entered the Schell’s cockpit.
The maintenance crew’s hands securely plugged him into the cockpit.
When the cockpit was sealed, it was isolated from the noise outside and for the first time Ors noticed that his body was emitting the smell of terror.
I wonder how long that’s been going on.
I have to be more Major-like. Or else…
He even told that to the source of fear in his head.
“Ors Break, boarded.”
Ors said it as if his mouth was moving on its own.
“Roger. Checking equipment prior to extra-vehicular operation.”
Derby’s voice read off the checklist. Ors responded to each item.
At the end, Derby’s voice said,
“Break, to launch point.”
As he was pushed into a dark cave and watched the metallic, tooth-like airlock doors close in on him, Ors thought:
That’s exactly what it should be.
But, from this point, Ors would be shot out of the ship by an electromagnetic catapult that ran the length of the ship, he would have to perform an “extra-vehicular operation.” Extra-vehicular operations were normally “force-oriented recon” duties, colloquially known as, “Schell Bullet.”
Further, the “forces” they were doing reconisance on during force-oriented recon were Schells from rival companies.
It hadn’t even crossed Ors’ mind that industrial war might include actual violence.
Just three months ago…